Jammie Thomas fined $1,920,000 for sharing 24 songs

The RIAA seems not to realize that the more it gets per song, the worse it looks. What could this do except further the impression that it is simply a public enemy?

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25 Responses to Jammie Thomas fined $1,920,000 for sharing 24 songs

  1. redsquares says:

    Dculberson, but he *lost* the cd, meaning he has indeed distributed it to an unknown party at no cost to the said party.

    Damn, I once had 20 cds stolen from me back in high school, that’s something like $12-20million isn’t it?

    I also don’t like that I’m worth less (insurance wise) than “one step closer” by Linkin Park. In fact, I think the individual members of Linkin Park complete are probably worth less than their own track…

  2. razordaze says:

    What’s interesting is that, obviously, Jammie Thomas is not going to be ponying up the $2mil anytime soon, if ever. (I know I wouldn’t)

    So it’s more likely the RIAA end up with a $2mil tax write-off. So basically the American citizenry have to pick up the RIAA’s tab at tax time.

    They really ARE a public enemy.

  3. O_M says:

    …Just another example of how judges can be bought off if the price is right. That’s the only way this woman lost the case, kids.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The jury set the amount, not the RIAA. From what I’ve read, they set it high because she came off as a liar, who so disrespected the court and her fellow citizens that she didn’t even bother to come up with plausible lies.

    The moral of the story here is that if you plan to try to bamboozle a jury in Minnesota, try to at least commit the sort of well-considered, realistic perjury that’ll make them feel respected in the morning.

  5. AirPillo says:

    The way they convinced that jury that the songs were actually redistributed is ridiculous, too.

    “We can’t prove that anyone else did download these songs from her computer, but obviously someone did because that’s what Kazaa is for,” was essentially the argument.

    By that logic, they should leave a warehouse of CD’s unlocked for a few months, then catch the first person to sneak in after that period and sue them for the complete value of everything that is missing, multiplied by 100. “We can’t prove they stole all that stuff, but they did break in, and stealing is what people break in for.”

    I hate that the courts don’t even pretend to demand adequate, rational evidence of copyright infringement in cases like this. If that dearth of evidence was sufficient to condemn someone to death we’d have 4 or 5 times as many executions in this country.

  6. PaulR says:

    Pamela Samuelson and Tara Wheatland wrote a paper called “Statutory Damages in Copyright Law: A Remedy in Need of Reform”.

    You can get it for free here:
    (All you need to do is register. The SSRN is a handy resource – especially if you want to argue, or even just think intelligently.)

    I strongly urge you’all to get into the habit of reading actual research papers and essays rather than just a reporter’s hastily written précis of an article. As a bonus, it allows you to get all sanctimonious on a politician’s ass when you can ask them why they didn’t read up on an issue.

    From the paper’s abstract:
    “U.S. copyright law gives successful plaintiffs who promptly registered their works the ability to elect to receive an award of statutory damages, which can be granted in any amount between $750 and $150,000 per infringed work. This provision gives scant guidance about where in that range awards should be made, other than to say that the award should be in amount the court “considers just,” and that the upper end of the spectrum, from $30,000 to $150,000 per infringed work, is reserved for awards against “willful” infringers.”
    [The emphasis is mine.]

    In the Thomas case, Jammie Thomas was in no way what would be considered a ‘willful infringer’. So there’s no way that he should have been punished by such large statutory damages. Read the paper for details.

  7. PaulR says:

    (BBG’s moveable type didn’t like my too-long comments…)
    Continuing from above:

    However, in the ‘States, many government positions/jobs (judges, for example) are elected and shouldn’t be, IMHO. Coupled with the fact that the American election campaigns are too expensive, too predictable (especially regarding their scheduling), too easily manipulated, and too, too long. Making these, I believe, moderately anti-democratic.

    Elected judges get more of/all their campaign money from corporate interests. If you think that these officials represent you, you’re truly misguided. They represent those entities who funded their campaigns.

    The sooner that corporate sponsorship of election is made illegal in the USA, the sooner the government will become more transparent – and less corrupt. It’s in a pretty sad state now. And this court case illustrates this quite well.

    While it ranked better than Chile (remember Augusto Pinochet?), the USA could do a lot better in its ‘Corruption Perception Index’ rankings.

  8. annoyingmouse says:

    I hope at least one of the artists on that list has the balls to ask for their percentage of this money. Otherwise they should sue the RIAA for it. Unfortunately, as per usual, these artists will sit back and let the RIAA destroy their industry.

  9. PaulR says:


    “..there’s no way that he should have been punished…”

    should have been “…there’s no way that she should have been punished..”

  10. Enochrewt says:

    Sort of ironic that one of the songs was:

  11. Destiny’s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills”
  • Black Jack says:

    I’m strongly opposed to “copyleftists” on ideological grounds; I think they’re Communists who happen to enjoy stealing intellectual property, and I view them as a grave threat to freedom.

    That said, I’ll probably never buy an album again. Not because I have any supposed legal or moral right to steal music, but simply because I’d like the recording industry to burn.

  • dwarf74 says:

    I don’t think the problem is with the evidence. As far as I can see, no matter how many times the case is tried, she’ll be found guilty.

    The problem is with the law itself, which insanely allows stratospheric damages.

    I don’t see the RIAA ever losing this particular case. The only relief will be a legislative change, IMHO.

  • dculberson says:

    Does anyone know if her lawyer is any good and/or experienced?

  • CuttingOgres says:


    Bankruptcy does not cover court awards.

  • dculberson says:

    Actually the original CD itself is license to have the music, so he’s not illegally distributing it. (Well, the theft you speak of is someone illegally distributing your property to themselves!)

  • dargaud says:

    Just curious: what happens when you (obviously) don’t have that much money to hand over ? Do you become an indentured servant or what ? I’d be curious to know if anybody in the jury has teenage kids… who obviously do the very same thing.

  • remmelt says:

    > If that dearth of evidence was sufficient to condemn someone to death we’d have 4 or 5 times as many executions in this country

    If you’d start at the top, that might not be a bad idea.

    > what happens when you (obviously) don’t have that much money to hand over

    Bankruptcy. Sucks, but beats paying the 6 billion the RIAA will get awarded in the next trial up.

  • RedShirt77 says:

    If I lose a CD but have a copy on my hard drive could I be liable for a million dollars?

  • grimc says:

    The list of songs, via Wired, in case anyone’s as curious as I was.

    And fuck the RIAA.

  • Clay says:

    One of the posters at Slashdot took some RIAA album sales statistics from a few years ago, broke them down by song, and concluded that each song on an album with eight tracks averaged about $65,000 in revenue. The court just ruled that Ms. Thomas owes $80,000 per track.

    As the poster said, she’s being held liable for more damages than if she somehow prevented any of those tracks from ever selling a single copy.

    Also, while I wouldn’t rely on Slashdot posters for legal insight, there seemed to be a consensus that civil judgments in such excessive amounts actually can’t be cleared in US bankruptcy proceedings, and that yes, this would make Ms. Thomas an indentured servant for the rest of her natural life, a modern inmate of debtor’s prison.

  • Patrick Anderson says:

    A 32 year old mother too. Did they layoff all their public relations and marketing people over the last decade?

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow… such idiocy! I don’t understand why the RIAA thinks they can eliminate piracy. It just won’t happen, period. They need to accept this and find sizable means to alternatives, not sue a mother of four to make a humiliating public example! I poo on them!

  • dculberson says:

    Redshirt, I believe this could happen only if you’re distributing it. So no, keeping a copy on your hard drive (or any other media) isn’t a risk.

  • rAMPANTiDIOCY says:

    it’s ironic, too, since that playlist is worthless

  • Jeff says:

    I’m just glad that this money will go to the hardworking musical artists whose creativity and imaginations to have come up with these songs can finally be rewarded.

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